I have been buying lotto tickets for the last two weeks. Normally, I don’t buy tickets–just think about buying them and what I would do with the winnings–but the Powerball has been above $300 million lately and that’s such an absurd amount of money that I can’t help myself. I go down to Ibis Market on the corner and buy a ticket, and sometimes a six-pack of beer if I didn’t bring cash. Then I walk home and think about how idyllic my life would be if I won.
I’d write more, I tell myself first, because I’d quit my day job. I have a good job right now, the best I’ve had since college and the culmination of everything I used to think I wanted: midlevel at a tiny, tiny nonprofit devoted to women and girl’s rights around the world. But it’s still a full time job, and most of the time I’d rather be a stay-at-home-cat-mom and occasional scribbler.
I am not in a position like Ann Bauer, with a husband to sponsor my writing, at least not right now. My person is a PhD student with aspirations to be a professor, so maybe one day he’ll decide to “sponsor” my writing in exchange for free house cleaning and childcare, but that life feels as far away as the one in which I win the lottery.
And even if it did ever come, the lottery or the husband/sponsor, there would be guilt there too. I would miss the work, the feeling of earning my own paycheck, of contributing something to the greater good. I would worry about being a dilettante. I would miss work.
Sometimes I feel like a faker, at work and at writing. I am not as passionately driven by international development as I thought I was, and as my work-friends are, and at the same time, I am not dedicated enough to writing quit working and go back to school or freelance like my writing-friends do. I’m in the middle. I work because it pays the bills and it doesn’t make me want to stab my eyes out. Sometimes it even makes me happy. I write because I have to, even when it does make me want to stab my eyes out. Sometimes it even makes me happy.
Maybe one day, I’ll be in a place where I write and get paid enough for my writing to stay home with my cat. Maybe one day I’ll win the lotto and I’ll write from my yacht, or maybe one day I’ll be married to a professor who pays the bills. I think the best life would be the one in which I am content with the balance between my writing and my day job, which is probably the most realistic route. But it means giving up on the idea of being sponsored or saved by money. It means I have to learn to be content with the tradeoffs that are part of my life. I think I can learn to do that.
But just in case, my lotto numbers are 8, 21, 34, 48, 59 and 5. Wish me luck.